Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening! Before we start, The Shape of Water just won four categories at the Academy Awards, including the award for Best Picture—the first sci-fi/fantasy film to do so since 2004. Tell us your reaction in the comments!
The Anchorage Museum in Alaska is currently running a fandom-themed exhibit. “The Art of Fandom,” according to a press release by the museum, “explores the things people like in our mass and global culture through collectables, contemporary art and design, fan art, and fandom sub-culture.” The release goes on to list examples of the wide range of fandoms included, which range from book and TV fandoms to comics, anime and manga, bandom, furry fandom, and real person fiction.
While the exhibition has been running since last October, a new profile by Gizmodo highlights the work of artist “Red” Hong Yi. Red’s contributions to “The Art of Fandom” shine lights on constructions made of “everyday materials like seeds, chopsticks, ceramics, and, yes, even paper” in order to create shadow figures of characters from Star Wars.
“The Art of Fandom” will remain on display through March 18.
Elsewhere, on social media, Doctor Who fans are joining together to raise money against gun violence. As announced by podcast Reality Bomb, Who Against Guns is a campaign organized by Doctor Who podcasters and fans in response to the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The Beat describes Who Against Guns as part of a “different… cultural response to the Stoneman Douglas shooting” that has included activism by the surviving students and actions by major corporations. The report also compares the goals of Who Against Guns to the message of the show itself:
The Doctor Who series has largely shied away from championing weapons as a means of solving conflict. The titular, time-traveling alien known as The Doctor often carries tools, most notably a sonic screwdriver, but rarely uses weapons designed to kill. The character is known for their use of intelligence and ingenuity to solve problems, though the show deals extensively with the repercussions of war and death throughout its 26 seasons of programming.
The early success of the Who Against Guns campaign speaks to that tradition…
Reality Bomb adds that several Who writers, including Steven Moffat, are participating in the campaign. Meanwhile, many Who fans have been expressing their support on Twitter.
If you follow me, you know I’m a Doctor Who podcast fan. Bunch of the best are joining together to stand up and say no more. The first act I took this morning was to follow their lead. You should too. #WhoAgainstGuns https://t.co/IH0NQTsauH
— Michelle Lee (@tardisblue1963) February 27, 2018
The Mary Sue has released an article that addresses the relationship between misogyny and the vocabulary that writers use to classify their transformative fanworks. The piece is framed as a rebuttal of a Literary Hub interview with Lonely Christopher, author of the new novel THERE, which Christopher describes as a subverted retelling of Stephen King’s The Shining. In Christopher’s own words, “I wrote my story in relation to another, more specifically on top of it. I took the basic tropes of The Shining and replicated and subverted them, and I also took chunks of language and interwove material pieces of Stephen King’s novel.”
However, Christopher also argues that THERE is too “academic” and has too many “conversations with different [literary] texts” to constitute fanfiction, and this is where the Mary Sue article takes issue. Its author criticizes Christopher for claiming that “he’s not creating anything so lowbrow as the accursed fanfiction” because of fanfiction’s origins as a predominantly queer and female community:
Fic is primarily created by women, trans, genderqueer and just plain queer people—for free, for each other—and as such, it’s often derided and dismissed. Made mostly by girls? For no profit or acclaim? Must be amateurish and trashy, goes much of the knee-jerk response you get when you mention fic to people in the mainstream…
[We are] tired of male writers—because it is almost always male writers—receiving serious, lengthy interviews like this about their fanfiction when these female and trans and genderqueer and queer-dominated communities do not field many requests to explain how Roland Barthes influenced the latest chapter of their popular fic, which has more than a hundred thousand hits on it, by the way.
The critique sounds similar to the thesis of a Film School Rejects article we discussed a few months ago, which argued that people need to stop using derisive language to describe fanfiction in order not to devalue it simply for being female-dominated.
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